Our services

Summum Engineering offers a range of design, engineering and information technology services, including research and development. Our services are provided to clients and other professionals within the architecture, engineering and construction industry. We are always pleased to work for and collaborate with artists, designers and academics. We enjoy applying our skill and tool sets to projects that have a positive intent, and amplify their impact by optimizing their material and energy efficiencies as well as other performative aspects.

Structural design

Structural engineering

Parametric modelling

Computational optimization

Programming and scripting

Scientific research

Structural design

The art of structural engineering extends beyond the straightforward analysis. When a design is all but settled, all that is left to do is pointing out problems and patching them up. At early stages of development, our structural designs can help you avoid such issues and, moreover, yield unanticipated, elegant solutions. Apart from design intuition and common sense, our tools to achieve good structural design include form finding and graphic statics, ideally combined with parametric modelling and computational optimization. Form finding is a method of arriving at geometries that are optimally shaped to respond to loads, while graphics statics are an intuitive way to visualize and manipulate the relationship between form and forces.

For ice skating track De Scheg, various geometries were form found to distribute reaction forces to the existing, surrounding building.

For Under My Umbrella, form finding was used to design a suspended cable-net that was sufficiently stable and stiff, while minimizing reaction forces to the supporting trees.

Structural engineering

Having arrived at a promising design, Summum can check your structure for the influence of various loads and other effects. This basic task of the structural engineer can quickly get more and more complicated for several reasons. First, more efficient and optimized structural geometries develop an increased sensitivity to instability and imperfections. Second, new developments in material science, can yield superior properties, though overall behaviour is usually not well established. And finally, both building codes and analysis software may not address these issues in a straightforward manner. Summum is experienced in adopting codes and recommendations as well as applying non-linear finite element analysis to unconventional materials and innovative structures.

For the North-South subway stations, risk analysis was carried out based on an elasto-plastic, visco-elastic analysis and material tests of the frozen soil.

For NEST HiLo, the thin shell roof was subject to large gradients in temperature and humidity, whilst being sensitive to buckling and imperfections.

Parametric modelling

Summum has close to a decade of experience with using and teaching parametric modelling, particularly for structural design and engineering purposes. Your project or design can be thought of in terms of logical relationships between its constituent parts. By identifying these relationships, any relevant variables and their limits, many more variations can be explored at an early stage than is normally possible. At later stages, the model can be further refined through computational optimization.

For the Magnolia gridshell and the NEST HiLo shell roof, Summum collaborated on parametric models that described their objectives, variables and constraints, and allowed for their geometrical design and structural analysis, while taking fabrication into account.

Computational optimization

Buildings, structures and the industry as a whole are becoming increasingly complex. Performance and efficiency can be measured in many ways: structurally, physically, financially, environmentally, and so on. More often than not, these objectives compete, and their constraints are not well understood. Summum is happy to formulate your project as an optimization problem, allowing us to generate solutions. From employing state-of-the-art scientific libraries and software, to applying ready-to-use optimization plug-ins, Summum will adopt the right algorithm for each problem.

For the Modus real estate platform, buildings are carved up into puzzles of viable apartment blocks, that are then solved by joining puzzle pieces representing new inhabitants with potentially conflicting wishes.

For NEST Hilo, tens of thousands of potential shapes were automatically generated and evaluated based on competing goals of producing a lightweight, flexibly formed roof covering a luxurious apartment that had to produce more energy than it used.

Programming and scripting

With the increasing digitization of the building industry, writing code is now commonplace and nerds rule the world. Custom algorithms and scripts can extend the power of your existing software and online platforms. Python is the preferred programming language for Summum, but as needed, we have worked for specific projects with other object-oriented languages such as C# and Java, older procedural languages such as Fortran and Pascal, and program-specific languages such as Matlab script and ANSYS APDL.

For the Modular climbing wall, a plug-in for CAD-software Rhinoceros3D has been written in Python and C#, allowing them to quickly design and evaluate various configurations of their system.

For the Modus real estate platform, custom Python scripts have been written that use state-of-the-art scientific libraries written in C, whilst interfacing with PHP code of the platform itself.

Scientific research

Sometimes an answer to your problem is not available, simply because the question has never been asked. Summum has a broad experience in breaking down complex problems into manageable hypotheses, problem statements, and research objectives. These questions can then be resolved through literature study, identifying numerical and physical experiments and having them carried out, before drawing conclusions. Summum is pursuing its own research agenda to advance its mission, and to avoid relying solely on commercial funding. At the same time, we are pleased to support your research goals, and to advance of scientific knowledge and human understanding together.

Check out our scientific output in our publications.

Return later to read more about this in our upcoming research pages.